May 25, 2017

Road Trip to the Past - Day 4: “Truly, Deeply, Madley” or “Here Lies the Lybargers”

Lybarger is a surname in my wife’s paternal line. Her grandmother told her how the Lybargers had a church and memorial in a little town called Madley, PA where they used to have reunions. So this would obviously have to be one of the stops on our trip.

Leaving Harrisburg behind, we set across the rural Pennsylvania countryside for Madley. Thank goodness for smartphones and GPS. The route took us through some beautiful countryside and cute little towns.

Finally, we reached the Madley Township and the Lybarger Lutheran Church.
It was fitting that our schedule had us arriving here on a Sunday. Regular Sunday services, however, haven’t been held here since the 1980’s. The congregation had moved a few hundred yards down the road into a new building that was now called the Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church. But the church yard provided the first tangible rewards of our journey.

Several Lybargers who fought in the Revolutionary War were buried here. They lived in this area for several generations, donating a portion of their farmland for the church building. It was a lovely hillside church and graveyard with a beautiful vista of the surrounding hills.

Unfortunately, the only people with keys to the church no longer lived in the area so we couldn’t go in the building. But, being Sunday, we chatted up the pastor of the current congregation after their services ended. He was a very jolly fellow who was eager to help and give us any history of the church he knew. And he pointed out parts of the original church that had been incorporated into his building such as a few of the stained-glass windows.

The rest of the day was spent traveling closer to Pittsburgh. We passed through a few other small towns with names that sounded familiar to my father-in-law. But our energy was spent. So we checked into our next hotel. That night, after getting some food in our stomachs, we did some more research online about family that were buried in some of the small towns in this area. Even though we didn’t know the exact cemeteries, or the locations of the ones we did know, we resolved to visit some of these towns the next day in an attempt to find more family graves.

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